Archive for the 'Video Stores' Category

Video Store, 1986

Video Store 1986

Darryl Solomon, the president of VideoRave in Westwood, California. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Great find by Camera Viscera, the photo accompanies a June 1986 Los Angeles Times article about the home video boom, specifically the struggles of “independent video specialty stores” against “video superstores” and non-specialty stores. Here are some choice quotes:

About 30% of the nation’s TV-watching households now own videocassette recorders…

The average wholesale value of a VCR is about $390, contrasted with about $830 in 1981…

The price breakthrough may have been the wildly successful release last Christmas of the “Beverly Hills Cop” videocassette at $29.95 by Paramount Home Video, the industry leader in price-cutting since 1982. In comparison, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video released the “Ghostbusters” videotape at $79.95 at about the same time…

One of the marketing consultants quoted in the article says that the mom and pop video shops aren’t likely “to capsize like little sailboats in a storm,” but that’s exactly what happened. The one I worked at opened in 1984/1985 and closed in 1987/1988. The Wherehouse is cited as “the largest renter of video movies in the nation,” but that wouldn’t be the case for much longer. On August 25, 1986, the first Blockbuster franchise store opened in Marietta, Georgia.

Here are the videos I spot in the photo above (help if you can):

First row: Alien (thanks, David Augustyn), Android, Barbarella, The Beastmaster, The Black Hole (thanks, David Augustyn), The Blade Master (thanks, doerrhb), Bladerunner, A Boy and His Dog (thanks, Ricky Zhero), Brainstorm, Clash of the Titans, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Conan the Barbarian

Second row: D.A.R.Y.L., Defcon 4, Demon Seed, Dragonslayer, Dune, Explorers, Flash Gordon (thanks, Ricky Zhero), Iceman, Ice Pirates, Krull

Third row: The Neverending Story, Night of the Comet, The Philadelphia Experiment, Red Sonja, Runaway, Spacehunter, Star Trek II, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III (x2), Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back (x2)

Fourth row: THX 1138, Timerider, Tron, 2001: A Space Odyssey, ?, ?, ?, ?, Westworld (x2)

More video stores here.

‘Home Video Shop’ Commercial, 1984

It hurts so good. You know how much I love interiors, and here’s one of a New Hampshire video store in 1984.

  1. The old, stodgy guy at the counter is perusing the Mr. T classic D.C. Cab. Never judge an old guy (or a VHS display box) by his (or its) cover.
  2. The kid’s section is a mess!
  3. In the “fully stocked equipment department”—i.e. the back room—I can make out a Big Chill box and posters for GreystokeWar Games, Scarface, Star Wars (Tom Jung version), First Blood, and (I think) Twilight Zone: The Movie. I can’t identify the poster on the far left.

Anyone interested in the heyday of home video—especially cult films and VHS box art—should be following The Mom and Pop Video Store.

(Video via yorkie2k/YouTube. Also check out his/her 1972 Magnavox Odyssey demo/promo.)

Video Store, 1987

Video Store 1983-2

This gentleman is Dennis McKinnon, and he’s posing in his video store for a press photo of some sort.

How many movies can we name? At first pass, from top to bottom and left to right (not counting the Star Trek single episodes, and not counting doubles), I’ve got Ordinary People, Sixteen Candles, The Lion in Winter, Raging Bull, Catch-22, Christine, High Plains Drifter, At Close Range, Little Shop of Horrors, 9½ Weeks, Cloak and Dagger, Peggy Sue Got Married, Topaz, Ruthless People, Horror of the Blood Monsters, The Hustler, On Golden Pond, Labyrinth, The Blues Brothers, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Missing, Rocky, Scarface, Revenge of the Nerds, Soul Man, Airplane, The Breakfast Club, Omen III: The Final Conflict, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Maltese Falcon, Dr. No, Children of a Lesser God, Purple Rain, Firewalker, Gotcha, The Howling, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, The Black Stallion, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Back to the Future, Wildcats, Village of the Damned (1960), Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Wisdom, Heartbreak Ridge, Crocodile Dundee.

I can make out a few more in the longer shot below: And Justice For All, Alien, Children of a Lesser God, The Killing Fields, Deathstalker, Jagged Edge, Return of the Living Dead, Buckaroo Banzai, All of Me, Dreamscape, Das Boot, Missing in Action, Logan’s Run.

Video Store 1983

How about some alphabetization, Dennis? Damn.

You’ll see a My Demon Lover poster just above his head. I vaguely recall the movie, starring Scott Valentine (Nick from Family Ties) as a dude who literally turns into a demon when sexually aroused. I fear I may have seen it in the theater.

(Images via Historic Images)

20/20 Special Report: ‘VCR Horrors’ (1987)

Because “half of American households now have video cassette recorders,” goes the argument in this shameless scare piece, kids have increasingly easy access to R-rated horror films, many of them “graphic orgies of blood and violence.” My favorite bit: “The kids call them slasher or splatter movies, and they get together to watch them at gross-out parties.” (Gross-out parties?)

The result, as we all know, is rampant desensitization to violence! Kids stabbing other kids! Pornographers and the Mob backing the horror industry! The inevitable degeneration of America’s youth!

There is a point to be made about violence in horror films being directed disproportionately at women, especially during the ’80s, although I think it had more to do with mindless copycatting than anything else. Still, if the formula weren’t so successful with the disproportionately male audience, it wouldn’t have been copied as much as it was.

Watch the clip before it gets pulled. (20/20 is still on the air, embarrassingly enough.) There’s some good footage of video stores, clips from some now classic films of the era, mentions of the notorious (and largely faked) Faces of Death, hilarious interviews with valley kids (“I love blood and guts… it turns me on…”), and a short interview with B movie heroine Linnea Quigley, who was impaled on reindeer antlers in Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Bloody Disgusting posted the video last year. I found it on YouTube via Horrorflipped.

Living on Video: Cruisin’ High (1976) and Street Trash (1987)

Video Store 1987

Time for a new feature, this one inspired by Lefty Limbo’s find above. He nails all the signs of the times in his post, and between us I think we identified all the visible movies, except for the one at the bottom left corner of notorious Psycho rip-off I Dismember Mama (the title spoofs I Remember Mama, a 1944 Broadway drama adapted for the screen in 1948). We put the year at 1987 based on the Witchboard and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors counter displays.

I worked in a video store at the time, and I watched every one of these movies multiple times, customers be damned. (Once, for somebody’s birthday, we had a slumber party in the store and watched Videodrome and other “racy” fare after the parental chaperone nodded off.)

For most people interested in non-mainstream films, the VHS box was the only thing to go on when deciding what to rent. Sensational art (a detail of the theatrical poster) and creative blurbs often were the difference between profit and loss. A video wasn’t like a book or a comic—you couldn’t have a peek inside and see if it was worth your time and cash.

So I’m going to post full VHS cover spreads—what you would have seen while perusing the empty boxes on the aisles—of flicks from the era.

Cruisin' High

“In their brutal world, survival is the only grade that counts.” “Check out the scene at CRUISIN’ HIGH… gang warfare is the passing grade!” A little tear of appreciation just formed in the corner of my eye.

Cruisin’ High was originally released as Cat Murkil and the Silks in 1976. (Find a short and sweet review here.) The term “inner city,” with all its negative connotations, entered the vernacular between ’75 and ’85, when street gangs and violent crime were at their peak. Vigilantes were in (Guardian Angels, Bernhard Goetz, Dirty Harry, Paul Kersey, Mack Bolan, The Punisher), and the very concept of gangs scared the living crap out of all the people in the suburbs who promptly rented the movies designed to exploit their fear. “Warr-ee-urrs, come out to PLAY-EE-AAAY…

Street Trash

In Street Trash, the owner of a liquor store finds a stash of bad booze in his basement and, humanitarian that he is, sells it to the area winos. Problem: the bad booze literally melts the bums. It’s fantastic, a minor horror classic. The blurb is clunky, but the ingeniously trashy art makes up for it. Dude is melting into the toilet, people!

(First image originally via Pinterest; VHS cover images via VHS Wasteland)

Bee Kind Rewind

Bee Kind

The difference between “Bee Kind Rewind” and “Be Kind Rewind” is that the first one is fucking awesome and the second one is lame.

You get points if you worked at a video store in the ’80s and put these stickers on all the tapes. You get bonus points if you watched Enter the Ninja on Betamax.

P.S. If you were not kind and did not rewind your tapes before returning them, either you gave money to Reagan, or your parents gave money to Reagan, or both.

(Image source: murder_by_phone_1982/Flickr)

Living on Video

Ted Thai/Life Magazine

Ted Thai/Life Magazine

Tower Video, New York, NY, 1986.


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